U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Company Refused Sabbath Accommodations, Federal Agency Charged
BOCA RATON, Fla. – A Boca Raton nursing and rehabilitation facility will pay $125,000 to settle two religious discrimination lawsuits brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suits (Civil Action Nos. 11-80825-CIV-KLR and 12-80172-CIV-KLR, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida) charged that Boca Group LLC, doing business as Menorah House, denied a religious accommodation to two certified nursing assistants who were Seventh-Day Adventists and fired them because of their religious beliefs. Menorah House had accommodated the two women’s religious needs for at least eight years, until management instituted a policy requiring all employees to work on Saturdays, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs so long as this does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the two lawsuits was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Ryskamp on March 9, 2012. In the decree, Menorah House agreed to revise its written discrimination policies with respect to religious discrimination and to post anti-discrimination notices at all of its facilities. In addition, Menorah House will conduct anti-discrimination training to all employees, including managers, supervisors and human resources personnel, with an emphasis on accommodating religion in the workplace.
“We hope this lawsuit sends a message to all employers to be vigilant in ensuring a fair and equitable work environment for all employees regardless of their religion,” said Robert Weisberg, the EEOC regional attorney for the Miami District.
Malcolm Medley, director of the EEOC’s Miami District Office, added, “Under the law, it is incumbent upon employers to accommodate an employee’s request for a religious accommodation when it would not impose an undue hardship. The EEOC will continue to act when employers fail to meet that obligation.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.